Goodbye, Dick

I have followed the career of Indiana Senator Richard Lugar for years and, God rest his political soul,  he will soon be gone from the United States Senate.

And good riddance.

The mostly phony Republican moderate or “centrist,” who was the longest-serving senator in Indiana history, has voted for domestic obstructionism time and again throughout Obama’s presidency (including Tuesday’s vote to preserve low interest rates for millions of college students’ loans), and it is bullshit to claim (as many have) that he was one of the last of reasonable, responsible Republicans. There wasn’t that much reasonableness about him, except for his relatively pragmatic internationalism.

But international issues are only a small part of the job senators are called on to do. Domestically, Lugar’s past behavior will compare favorably to the behavior of the Tea Party nut job, another Dick, Richard Mourdock, who beat Lugar in the GOP primary on Tuesday, should Mourdock beat the Democrat in November.

Lugar didn’t even reside in Indiana, for God’s sake. When he came “home,” he lodged in a hotel in Indianapolis—initially at taxpayer’s expense.  Is that the behavior of a moderate centrist?

To prove my point that Lugar’s reasonableness is only party-deep, I present his concession remarks. Keep in mind that this man was allegedly a “statesman” in the Republican Party and that he had a “collegial relationship“—even friendship—with Barack Obama:

Hoosier Republican primary voters have chosen their candidate for the U.S. Senate. I congratulate my opponent on his victory in a hard fought race. I want to see a Republican in the White House, and I want to see my friend Mitch McConnell have a Republican majority in the Senate. I hope my opponent prevails in November to contribute to that Republican majority.

Blah, blah, blah. Contrast those partisan remarks with the remarks of President Obama, who said:

While Dick and I didn’t always agree on everything, I found during my time in the Senate that he was often willing to reach across the aisle and get things done. My administration’s efforts to secure the world’s most dangerous weapons has been based on the work that Sen. Lugar began, as well as the bipartisan cooperation we forged during my first overseas trip as senator to Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

Sen. Lugar comes from a tradition of strong, bipartisan leadership on national security that helped us prevail in the Cold War and sustain American leadership ever since. He has served his constituents and his country well, and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

Now, that is class. And Lugar’s boilerplate partisan comments are, well, typical of a contemporary Republican who—even in defeat—still bends his knee to Tea Party extremists. God knows what good Lugar could have done by calling out the extremists in his party, but we will never know.

There just aren’t too many Republicans that have that kind of fight in them these days.

4 Comments

  1. King Beauregard

     /  May 9, 2012

    For eighteen months, if there had been just one GOP Senator too classy to abuse the filibuster, 90% of the obstruction in Congress would have been prevented. Where was Lugar then?

    The guy fed his party’s most partisan, divisive appetites, only to be consumed by the very same beast. I will shed no tears over him.

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    • King Beau,

      And not only that, but Lugar joined his fellow Republicans in that obstructionism and where did it get him? Trounced in his own state primary! We will never know what would have happened if he had told the wing-nuts in his party to stick it in their asses because he was going to do what is right for his state and his country.

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      • King Beauregard

         /  May 9, 2012

        Too true. I could respect him if he got trounced for being that one brave Republican, but he got trounced for not being brazen enough of a partisan. He was an obstructionist in that craven way of old politicians who still like to pretend they’re above such things (I’m looking at you, Olympia Snowe).

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  2. ansonburlingame

     /  May 9, 2012

    To all,

    Don’t forget that Lugar is 80 years old, for starters. No one wants another Strom Thurmond on either side of the aisle.

    Now go back a long ways to Sam Nunn and Lugar. There was “reaching across the aisle” in many instances during a previous significant divide in America.

    Don’t as well diminish Lugar’s interantionalism as Duane calls it. He was for decades the most respected voice from the GOP on many foreign policy issues.

    None of us have heard much about Lugar for the last several years. Did his age have anything to do with that? I don’t know.

    But he was in my view a “specialist” in the Senate on foreign policy issues and contributed a lot, as noted by the President, for such insights and contributions.

    My guess is that he has been replaced by a Tea Party Neo Con and that is sad for the country, at least in foreign affairs.

    Anson

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